Category: Society

Halloween edition

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pumpkins_.jpgHaunted college campus lists aside, Happy Halloween everyone! What's better than a ghost-y campus - where do we think all that venerable tradition, character and culture comes from, anyway? - than a town that knows how to celebrate Halloween? Hopefully it's one of the many great experiences UGA students take with them wherever they go from here. Tonight's the night - although, in Athens tonight started one week ago and runs through Sunday - so get out and have fun.

Image: wonderfully carved Cucurbits in the grand tradition.

Faculty in the Media, October 2014

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From the Ebola outbreak to the eclipse of the Hunter's Moon to securing the White House, Franklin faculty answered reporter queries and authored popular press articles on a variety of subjects. A sampling from over the past month:

UGA to share National Science Foundation grantTina Salguero, assistant chemistry professor, is on one of nine research teams across the country to share an $18 million NSF grant “to investigate the promise of 2-D layered materials.”  Salguero will work with three University of California-Riverside researchers.

Sea floors host surprise methane-munching microbes, reports Nature.com.  “This is a niche that has been completely unaccounted for,” said professor of marine sciences Samantha Joye.

Is U.S. ready for a pandemic?Bloomberg essay by associate professor of history Stephen Mihm:  “Although the likelihood of a large-scale outbreak of Ebola is almost immeasurably tiny, Americans have begun to ask, ‘Who, really, is in charge of snuffing out a potential epidemic?’”

Guest Op-ed by Athletic Association Professor of Social Sciences Marshall Shepherd in the Washington Post on the Lesson from the weather community on Ebola

“Of Myself I Sing” – A New York Times column on narcissistic posts on Facebook quotes psychology professor W. Keith Campbell that those who are narcissistic offline also narcissistically overshare online.

Distilling more than a century of American Indian history into a digital map – history professor Claudio Saunt’s online interactive map is “a lesson in the power of public history, and a case study for a profession grappling with how to encourage and evaluate digital experimentation,” writes the Chronicle of Higher Education in a feature story.

Study by Ashley Barr, a recent doctoral graduate in the department of sociology explores connections between romantic relationships, health – Health Canal

Seeking Congressional ‘Buy In’ – The approach of asking Congress to approve a military operation “isn’t what the Founders imagined whey they envisioned the powers of ‘war and peace’ in the new United States,” Stephen Mihm wrrote in Bloomberg View.

Northrop Grumman joins NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador Initiative – Space Ref. Marshall Shepherd, past president of the American Meteorological Society and UGA Athletic Association Professor participated in a panel discussion on Sept. 18

Weather Channel’s Sam Champion to headline event on climate change – AJC article says the event will feature a discussion with a panel of experts, including Marshall Shepherd, director of UGA’s Atmospheric Sciences Program

Humans altering climate is nothing new, but today's scale is more massive – ABH article quotes Victor Thompson, anthropology professor

Q&A on the News (Israeli and Palestinian situation) – AJC answer includes Kevin Jones, assistant professor  of history

Kanye West: Narcissist of the Day – Time Magazine article quotes Keith Campbell

“Heart, mind and eye – the art of Lamar Dodd” – The Saporta Report recalls the life of the eminent UGA-based artist and faculty member on the 105th anniversary of his birth.

Air Force removes God from chain of command – San Antonio Express-News column by Stephen Mihm, associate professor of history, for Bloomberg News, syndicated widely.

Kudos, October 2014

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Signing_Reitz.jpgFranklin faculty and students continue to astound with extraordinary achievements and major contributions in scholarship, research and service. As sampling from the past month:

Elizabeth Jean Reitz was among one hundred-sixty four influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors, and institutional leaders who were inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at a ceremony in Cambridge on Saturday, October 11.

Distinguished Research Professor of Physics and founding Director of the Center for Simulational Physics David Landau has been appointed to the Academic Advisory Council of the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Wendy Zomlefer, associate professor of plant biology, received $74,385 from the National Science Foundation as part of a $2.5 million collaborative grant comprising 12 institutions, headed by Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

Professor of industrial/organizational psychology Kecia Thomas was appointed associate dean for leadership development and diversity for the Franklin College.

Wenxuan Zhong, associate professor in the department of statistics, has been awarded a $1.44 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop predictive statistical models based on epigenetic change patterns.

A national exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, is highlighting the work of two alumni and one faculty member from the University of Georgia's Lamar Dodd School of Art.

Researchers in the department of psychology have developed a unique method of diagnosing the earliest stages of dementia by applying tasks commonly used to gauge levels of impulsive or risky behaviors related to financial decisions.

Melissa Harshman, associate professor in the Lamar Dodd School of Art and professor of psychology L. Stephen Miller will gain a deeper perspective on modern academic leadership as 2014-2015 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellows.

The Academic Leadership Development Program Fellows program at UGA is part of the broader Academic Leadership Development Program of the Southeastern Conference.

University of Georgia researchers, led by Distinguishex Reseach professor and co-P.I. Michael Pierce have received a five-year $850,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish a glycoscience training program for pre-doctoral graduate students that will help train a new generation of carbohydrate researchers.

A team of students in the department of statistics recently won first place and $5,000 at the national SAS Analytics 2014 Conference in Las Vegas a national competition. The SAS Analytics Shootout Team from UGA is comprised of Wenbo Wu, Hejiao Hu, Linwei Hu, Lina Liao, Fei Liu, Xijue Tan, and Guannan Wang. Congratulations ot the team and faculty advisor Jaxk Reeves.

Image: Elizabeth Jean Reitz, Professor of Anthropology, signs the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Book of Members, a tradition that dates back to 1780.

Thomas appointed Associate Dean

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thomaskecia.jpgCongratulations to professor Kecia Thomas, who has been appointed associate dean for leadership development and diversity in the Franklin College:

A professor of industrial/organizational psychology in the department of psychology, Thomas has served on the UGA faculty since 1993.

"As associate dean, Dr. Thomas will have a portfolio that is well-aligned with her academic and professional expertise as an industrial/organizational psychologist who is an award-winning graduate mentor and instructor, an internationally recognized scientist/practitioner in the psychology of workplace diversity and a certified executive coach," said Alan T. Dorsey, dean of the Franklin College. "Given her scholarship, dedication to the college and to the university, and her extensive leadership experience, I am pleased to have Dr. Thomas serve in this important role."

Thomas has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, one textbook and four edited volumes. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as by school districts, nonprofits and other national organizations.

One of the brightest stars at UGA, known for her scholarship as well as her ability to lead both her peers and our students, Thomas' combination of skills make for a dynamic addition to the university administration. The institutional challenges addressed as diversity issues, present at every university and college in America, represent a particular and extraordinary responsibility. It is here that Dr. Thomas has and will continue to provide important direction and leadership. We are lucky to have her on our team. Great, key appointment for Franklin College, and because of its centrality on campus, for UGA.

2014 Gregory Lecture brings Lincoln scholar to UGA

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Eric Foner, the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, whose 2010 book The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery received the Pulitzer Prize for History, will deliver the 2014 Gregory Distinguished Lecture.

Foner's lecture, drawn from a forthcoming book on the subject, is "Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad." The lecture will take place Oct. 27 at 4 p.m. in the M. Smith Griffith Auditorium at the Georgia Museum of Art. It is open free to the public.

One of only two people to serve as president of the three major professional organizations—the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association and the Society of American Historians—Foner is one of the few historians to have won the Bancroft and Pulitzer prizes in the same year.

We are indebted to Amanda and Greg Gregory for their longtime support of the Franklin College and the department of history. This annual lecture, one of UGA's Signature events of the year, is not to be missed. Come to the museum and engage with one of the nation's great scholar-authors, Eric Foner.

'State of the Art' exhibition includes UGA professor, alumni

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crystal-bridges.jpgImagine you're a major research university, with aspirations for rising in the ranks. Everything from your endowment to annual extramural funding dollars can be included in quantifiable metrics you use to measure your progress. But there are other aspects of your impact that can be more difficult to quantify. For example, how good is the history department? How strong is your art school? Clear metrics on those endeavors rarely pop up, but when they do, as in a survey of contemporary artists in a national exhibition, we should take notice:

A national exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, is highlighting the work of two alumni and one faculty member from the University of Georgia's Lamar Dodd School of Art.

"State of the Art : Discovering American Art Now," on view through Jan. 19, features more than 100 American artists selected as the result of over 1,000 studio visits by Crystal Bridges curators who traveled the country seeking to discover artists whose work had not yet been recognized nationally.

...

"A large national exhibition featuring 100 prominent working American artists today provides a terrific survey of the creativity and inventiveness from across the country," said Chris Garvin, director of the Lamar Dodd School of Art. "To have three artists and one curator affiliated with UGA as part of this exhibition is a great distinction that places us at the forefront of artistic practice in the United States."

Just so, professor Garvin. What Crystal Bridges is attempting to do is very ambitious - create a national museum of international renown, deep in the heart of Arkansas - but what our art school is doing is no less ambitious. A very important constituent part of the learning environment in a major research university, a thriving art school would be missing if we didn't have one. But we do. 

Hispanic Heritage Month

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choco.jpgAppreciation of the Hispanic culture that comprises such a great and growing part of the American fabric can certainly be an everyday ocurrence. But a monthlong celebration of rich cultural elements informing our campus and community is also in process, with events highlighting Hispanic Heritage Month:

The nationally recognized celebration is observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and honors the many contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the U.S. while highlighting the diverse heritage and cultures of Latin America.

The theme for this year's observance is "A Legacy of History, a Present of Action and a Future of Success." Unless otherwise noted, the following events are open free to the public:

Sept. 30-"Ask Me About..." Students for Latin@ Empowerment will give away Mexican candy and have information about their organization available from noon to 2 p.m. on the Tate Student Center Plaza.

Oct. 1-Hispanic Scholarship Fund Celebration. The Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar Chapter celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting some of the many HSF alumni who are making their mark on history. The program will be held at 6 p.m. in Room 350 of the Miller Learning Center.

Oct. 4-Fiesta. The Athens-Clarke County Library hosts stories, music, a Don Quixote skit, crafts and more from 2-4 p.m.

Oct. 7 and 9-Film Screening: Chocó by Jhonny Hendrix Hinestoza. The film tells the story of a young Colombian woman who raises her children alone by working in a gold mine. A question-and-answer session with the director will follow. Admission is $9.75 or $7.50 for students. Oct. 7 screening will be at 8 p.m. at Ciné. The Oct. 9 screening will be at 6 p.m. at the Georgia Museum of Art.

Oct. 8-Film Screening: Cesar Chavez. The film looks at the American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association. The screening will be held at 7 p.m. in the Tate Student Center Theatre.

Oct. 11-ALCES Open House. The Athens Latino Center for Education and Services showcases the various services offered to the Hispanic population in North Georgia. There will be food, music and door prizes from
1:30-4 p.m. at ALCES, which is located at 445 Huntington Road.

Oct. 11-Pueblos Originarios: Un Festival Artesanal. Arts and crafts inspired by the indigenous peoples of the Americas as well as food and music from all over Latin America will be showcased from 1-5 p.m. at the Pinewoods Library and Learning Center, 465 U.S. Highway 29 North.

Oct. 12-Book Fiesta With Lucha Libre. Share stories and make a luchador mask from 3-4 p.m. at the Athens-Clarke County Library.

More events at the the link. Franklin's LACSI and the romance languages department lead the way in planning these important celebrations and we are fortunate to have these vibrant organizations that both draw great students and faculty to campus and broaden the academic environment to more accurately reflect American values. Come out and enjoy some of these events, which cross into music, language, art, literature, food and film just like Hispanic culture does in real life. Voila, no boundaries at all.

Jessica Kissinger: making research usable

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Jessica_Kissinger.jpgGreat opportunity to feature not just one of our star faculty members, but also an emerging challenge for all researchers everywhere in this era of big data:

Jessica Kissinger is a molecular geneticist whose research on the evolution of disease and the genomes of eukaryotic pathogenic organisms—Cryptosporidium, Sarcocystis, Toxoplasma andPlasmodium (malaria) among them—has led her to perhaps the emerging issue among research scientists: managing data.

"To solve a complex problem like a disease, whether you're looking for a new drug target or just trying to understand the basic biology of an organism, how it interacts with its host, you have to bring together a lot of data sets," Kissinger said. "You want to be able to take the expertise of the community at large, with individually generated pieces of the puzzle, and then try to stitch them into a quilt that creates a better picture."

Kissinger's local community at UGA includes the genetics department, the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases and the Institute of Bioinformatics, where she serves as director. But her focus is the wider world of scientists and helping make the data they produce more accessible, sharable and reusable.

"So many resources go into generating some of these highly specialized data sets, with very difficult to work with and hard to culture organisms, and publishing your results doesn't necessarily make the data usable," she said. "I work on that usability part-taking data generated elsewhere and integrating it to help others access it and use it well."

Our researchers and those around the U.S. world now produce mountains of publicly available data that must be managed and archived properly in order to be utlized by other researchers. It's the way we build on scientific discovery now - whether it is about DNA of nutirents in deep ocean plumes or T-cells in the body - and the shoulders of giants now include alot of 1s and 0s. Kudos to Kissinger for maintaining her own lab investigations while also giving full force attention to bioinformatics practices that are the steps to the next great heights.

 

 

Heart, mind, and eye — the art of Lamar Dodd

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venice-reflection-rain_dodd.jpgTerrific appreciation of Lamar Dodd by Jamil Zainaldin at the Saporta Report:

Life in Depression-era New York was hard for Dodd, as well as for his family back home in LaGrange. He and his new wife, also of LaGrange, decided in 1933, against the advice of his teachers, to return to the South, where he took a position in a Birmingham art store. He continued painting with heart, mind, and eye, honoring the humble and dignifying the ordinary in settings that he seemed to understand in his deepest being. His reputation continued to grow, inside and outside the South.

At the age of 28, he received a summons out of the blue from the head of the University of Georgia’s fine arts division, who urged him to come to Athens as the university’s artist-in-residence. They were looking for “a live, recognized artist doing actual creative work” who would not only serve students but act as a cultural influence on “the people of our state.” If this agreed with him, then the university would up the visual arts budget from $50 to $5,000.

As we say whenever anyone asks, Dodd was a real ambassador for the arts, who believed with conviction in the importance of a cultivated citizenry. Let us resolve to never be shy about that, and that his legacy remains alive and well on campus.

Image: Venice Reflection, Rain (1958) by Lamar Dodd. Credit: Georgia’s State Art Collection, Georgia Council for the Arts

UGA engineering enrollment grows

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Congratulations to the UGA College of Engineering, which is experiencing tremendous growth in enrollment. This growth was forecast long ago, forecasts themselves that were part of the rationale for offering a wider range of engineering degrees at the university in the first place, for which the Franklin College has long been an advocate and supporter:

The college now has UGA’s fifth-largest undergraduate enrollment after passing the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the School of Public Affairs this year.

“There’s a lot of demand for University of Georgia engineering,” said Donald Leo, the school’s dean.

As of Sept. 9, the college had enrolled 1,233 majors this fall, up exactly 300 more than a year ago. Adding in the 81 engineering graduate students and the 1,314 total enrollment is nearly twice what it was in fall 2012 ‑ 63 graduate students and 631 undergraduates in the college’s first year.

In undergraduates, the engineering college now ranks sixth in size behind arts and sciences (9.457), business (6,418), education (2,436), journalism (1,895) and agriculture and environmental sciences (1,488). Just behind engineering in size are family and consumer sciences, with 1,195 majors, and the School of Public and International Affairs, with 1,108.

There is a long history of engineering at UGA - long, very long, as in dating from the 1840's. All classes in the mechanical arts were once taught in Athens until those degrees were consolidated at the North Avenue Trade School in the 1930's. In the more recent era, Franklin College deans Wyatt Anderson and Garnett Stokes supported UGA engineering efforts with people and resources, funding joint-appointments between engineering and computer science, physics and astronomy, chemistry and other Franklin departments. These new, interdisciplinary positions allowed UGA to bring to campus some of the best young researchers in the country, laying the groundwork for innovative degree programs and building for the succes we see today.

And to digress a bit further, conventional wisdom has certainly coalesced around the idea that it is important for UGA to have engineering (and a medical school) for obvious reasons and these are not inaccurate. But it is at least as important for engineering to be offered in the context of a liberal arts learning environment, where future engineers can be trained alongside future historians, writers journalists, attorneys, artists, social workers and entrepreneurs of all sorts. Those are the people who will live the world they are going to design for, and the more engineers understand that world and its people, the better their design solutions will be. The folks who conceived of the UGA engineering programs, including the deans mentioned above, understood this quite well. All are to be commended.